This article was originally posted By Asher Price @asherprice on Apr 17, 2020, for Statesman.
Banker, former University of Texas System regent and longtime Republican donor James Huffines will lead the Strike Force to Open Texas and lobbyist Mike Toomey — long considered one of the most influential people in Texas politics — will serve as chief operating officer. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Comptroller Glenn Hegar — all Republicans — will serve as consulting members.
In addition, Abbott appointed Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt as chief medical officer of the group.
Hellerstedt’s medical advisers are:
Dr. Parker Hudson, assistant professor of internal medicine and infectious diseases at Dell Medical School.
Dr. Mark McClellan, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner and U.S. Medicaid and Medicare administrator.
Dr. John Zerwas, an anesthesiologist and executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Texas System. Zerwas resigned from the Texas House last year after a dozen years in office, including as chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, these health experts will develop a medical architecture to comprehensively test and trace COVID-19 that will enable Texans to gradually and safely begin the process of returning to work and other activities.
The medical team will work alongside a special advisory council that will “share innovative ideas to help businesses strategically reopen while containing the spread of COVID-19,” according to the news release.
Its members, some of them top-ranked donors to the Republican party and to Abbott’s campaigns, are:
Arcilia Acosta, president and CEO, Dallas-based construction firm CARCON Industries & Construction.
Paul Andrews Jr., founder and CEO, Fort Worth-based electronics company TTI Inc.
Mark Bivins, Amarillo rancher; partner, Corsino Cattle Co.; former Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioner.
Kathy Britton, CEO and owner, Houston-based Perry Homes.
Brad Brookshire, chairman and CEO, Brookshire Grocery Co.
J. Bruce Bugg Jr., banker; chairman, Texas Transportation Commission.
Alonzo Cantu, president and CEO, McAllen-based Cantu Construction.
Bobby Cox, owner and operator, Fort Worth-based restaurant company Bobby Cox Companies Inc.
Adriana Cruz, executive director of the economic development and tourism division in the office of the governor.
Michael Dell, chairman and CEO, Dell Technologies.
Scott Dueser, chairman, president and CEO, Abilene-based First Financial Bank.
Don Evans, chairman, President George W. Bush Foundation; chairman, Permian Strategic Partnership; secretary of commerce under Bush.
Tilman Fertitta, chairman, CEO and owner, Houston-based restaurant-hotel-gaming company Landry’s, Inc.
Richard Fisher, senior adviser, Barclays; former president and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Rick Francis, chairman, El Paso-based WestStar Bank Holding Company Inc.
Printice Gary, founding partner and principal and CEO, Dallas-based construction company Carleton Companies.
Brad Heffington, owner of Panhandle-based Heffington Farms Inc. and Triple T Irrigation Inc.
Jeffery D. Hildebrand, executive chairman and founder, Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Co.
Nancy Kinder, president and CEO, Houston-based Kinder Foundation.
Tom Luce, founder and chairman, Texas 2036, which provides a road map of policy initiatives.
Marc McDougal, CEO, Lubbock-based housing company McDougal Companies.
Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, owner, Gallery Furniture.
Drayton McLane, chairman, Temple-based McLane Group, wholesale supply company.
Elaine Mendoza, founder, president and CEO, San Antonio-based biotechnology company Conceptual MindWorks Inc.
Balous Miller, owner, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q restaurants.
Carla Moran, family owns Lubbock-based Ramar Communications, a television and radio station company.
Dennis Nixon, CEO and chairman, Laredo-based International Bank of Commerce.
David Oliveira, partner, McAllen-based insurance defense law firm Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher.
Ross Perot, Jr., chairman, Dallas-based investment firm the Perot Group.
Kevin D. Roberts, executive director, conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Robert B. Rowling, owner and chairman, Irving-based TRT Holdings, which owns Gold’s Gym and Omni Hotels, among other companies. A founder of conservative political action group American Crossroads.
Kendra Scott, founder and CEO, Austin-based Kendra Scott jewelry company.
Robert F. Smith, Austin-based founder and chairman, Vista Equity Partners.
Sam L. Susser, chairman of BancAffiliated Inc.
Massey Villarreal, CEO and president, Houston-based consulting firm Precision Task Group.
Kirk Watson, founding dean of University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs and Democratic state senator from Austin.
Marc Watts, president, the Friedkin Group, Toyota dealership and resort company.
Graham Weston, former chairman of cloud computing firm Rackspace Hosting.